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April 18, 2000

John Bluck

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Phone: 650/604-5026 or 604-9000

e-mail: jbluck@mail.arc.nasa.gov


Release: 00-29AR

NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: You are invited to cover Earth Day 2000 events at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, scheduled on Thursday, April 20. To reach Ames, take the Moffett Field exit from Highway 101, drive east to the main gate at Moffett Federal Airfield and report to the visitor badging office for maps and directions to the Moffett Training and Conference Center, Bldg. 3, Ballroom and to the 80-by-120-foot Wind Tunnel. U.S. media representatives must have valid picture ID in order to enter Ames. Foreign media representatives must be escorted.

NASA AMES' EARTH DAY ACTIVITIES INCLUDE SOLAR-ELECTRIC KICK-OFF

A pilot project to make electricity from the Sun at NASA’s Ames Research Center, located in California’s Silicon Valley, will be announced on Thursday, April 20, 2000, by government officials as part of Earth Day activities at the center. Earth Day 2000 will officially be celebrated on Saturday, April 22.

A series of talks related to the environment and energy are also scheduled from 8:40 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. PDT April 20 at the Moffett Training and Conference Center ballroom, Bldg. 3 at Ames. Reporters may also observe a large wind turbine from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PDT in the world’s largest wind tunnel, Bldg. N-221B, where engineers are conducting tests of the machine.

NASA Ames, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), City of Palo Alto, CA, and other government officials will be on hand at 1:00 p.m. PDT when a small solar-powered water pump and an electric bulb are activated near Bldg. 3 during a ceremony to announce a new solar-electric project. NASA officials expect construction of the demonstration solar-electric plant at Ames to be completed by late summer.

"The four-kilowatt generation plant will make more than 7,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year," said Steve Frankel, an engineer spearheading the project. "The plant will be on the roof of Bldg. N245, and the solar-electric power will go into the NASA Ames power system."

"This solar-electric system will reduce green-house-gas emissions in the local area," Frankel said. "The project is part of President Clinton’s Million Solar Roof Initiative; it is in response to a challenge issued in June 1997 by the President to all federal agencies to help create viable markets for solar-energy equipment and products."

The initiative calls for the U.S. Department of Energy to lead an effort to place one million solar energy systems, including photovoltaic and solar hot water systems, on the roofs of buildings and homes across the United States by 2010.

"What’s nice about this Ames project is that it happens to be the right size. The President’s challenge calls for projects of two-kilowatt generation capacity or larger units," said Frankel. "We think the system will have a life of about 25 years or more with virtually no maintenance. This system takes sunlight and turns it directly into electricity. It will go into the building’s power system. During the off hours, the system will shut off, and the conventional power system will take over," Frankel explained.

"It should be done by August. It will be installed by a NASA contractor, and the equipment is commercially available. We plan to post the DOE plans and a generic parts list on the Internet so anybody can learn from our experience," said Frankel.

"DOE measured light levels on the roof, and made the economic analysis," Frankel noted. Palo Alto granted NASA $20,000 for the project, he said. In addition, NASA will make up the balance of the cost to construct and operate the pilot plant, and the Department of Energy will design the system, according to Frankel. More information about the Million-Roof Project is available on the Internet at:

http://www.eren.doe.gov/millionroofs/

A series of talks in the ballroom in Bldg. 3 at Ames begins at 8:40 a.m. PDT. "The morning session focuses on renewable energy; the afternoon session focuses on pollution prevention," said Linda Vrabel of Ames. "The morning session will describe the recent changes to the utility companies brought about by energy deregulation. At a grass roots level, this session presents the effects of deregulation on the individual's choice of power companies," Vrabel explained.

Among the many scheduled speakers are Kari Smith, of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, who will speak at 9:30 a.m. PDT; and Vincent Schwent, California Energy Commission, slated to speak at 10:00 a.m. PDT. The afternoon session is devoted to the presentation of practical steps employees can make towards purchasing green products, according to Vrabel.

About 20 organizations including the Environmental Protection Agency, the General Services Administration, several green-power utility companies, green-power installers, various transit authorities, alternative transportation groups and other companies will provide displays for Ames Earth Day activities. Organizers say that a half dozen electric cars are also scheduled to be among the displays. Ames Earth Day 2000 events are open to on-site employees, media representatives and members of the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group's environmental committee, which is co-sponsoring the event.

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